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After a two-year hiatus, senior Sophie Clouse-Turner, pictured left, organized the 2023 Mini Cheer Camp for 37 Mills Lawn Elementary students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. Center: sisters Lilliana, (left) and Londyn Sylvester (right) cheered on the Bulldogs together for the first time. Right: Chloe Moon added some pizazz to her cheer outfit with a sparkly jacket. (Left and right photos by Jessica Thomas, center submitted by Naomi Hyatt)

YSHS senior brings back cheer camp

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Everybody yell

This was one of the chants participants in the 2023 Mini Cheer Camp used to cheer on the Bulldogs on Friday, Jan. 20. The Friday night exhibition was the final part of a three-day mini camp hosted by the Yellow Springs High School cheerleaders, led by senior Sophie Clouse-Taylor, who organized the event for her senior capstone project.

Clouse-Taylor said she wanted to bring back the camp because she enjoyed participating in it her freshman year, the last year the camp was hosted before the onset of COVID-19.

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“I thought it was so much fun to watch all the minis out there strutting their stuff,” Clouse-Taylor said. “I wanted to offer the camp again, so I proposed the idea and we made it happen.”

Clouse-Taylor said she worked closely with her cheerleading coach and senior project advisor, Naomi Hyatt, to plan and execute the event. Hyatt said Clouse-Taylor learned what it takes to plan an event, skills that Clouse-Taylor can use throughout her adult life.

“The goal [of the project] is for students to execute a plan that aligns with their goals while making an impact on the community around them.” Hyatt said. “She also wants a career in early childhood education, so when she came to me about doing mini camp as her senior project, it was a perfect match.”

To plan the event and fulfill the requirements of the project, Clouse-Taylor had to propose the project, plan a budget, advertise the event and create age-appropriate activities for the minis, who ranged from kindergarteners to sixth-graders. Clouse-Taylor said 37 mini cheerleaders participated in the camp — the biggest turnout yet. Accomplishing all that took patience, Clouse-Taylor said.

“I really had to learn to take my time,” Clouse-Taylor said. “I learned that focusing on one step and not trying to go a mile a minute made everything easier.”

By day one of camp, Clouse-Taylor said she felt the work had paid off.

“All three days of camp, [the minis] were really excited to be there,” Clouse-Taylor said. “They caught on really quickly and wanted to learn all the cheers.”

The News caught up with two of the mini participants, fourth-grader Everly Drew and third-grader Londyn Sylvester. Both Everly and Londyn participated in the camp prior to the pandemic, and they both said they were excited to be able to participate this year.

“I did the camp in second grade,” Everly said. “I was really happy it was happening this year.”

Londyn said she was happy to participate in the camp for an extra special reason — the ability to cheer alongside her sister, Lilliana, who is a member of the varsity cheer squad.

“I wanted to cheer with my sister,” Londyn said. “I was nervous in the beginning, but after a while I enjoyed it.”

Asked about their favorite part of the camp, Everly and Londyn emphatically gave the same answer: “Learning the dance!”

And for Hyatt, that’s the joy of student-led projects like mini cheer camp.

“My [cheerleaders] get leadership skills and become positive role models, and my littles overcome fears, feel the rush of performance and challenge themselves physically,” she said.

Reflecting on the experience, Clouse-Taylor said she was happy to be a part of something that will be an ongoing tradition for the cheer squad.

“It’s definitely challenging, but so much fun,” Clouse Taylor said. “Seeing their little faces and watching them cheer makes all the effort worth it.”

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